For those of you who have read my book Firedancer: Your Spiral Journey of a Life of Passion and Purpose, you may recall a story that I shared, where I paused to watch the baby birds in my barn take flight for the first time. It was shortly after losing my job and shortly after losing my father. A time when I thought the bottom of my world had dropped out.
In that moment of pause – in awe and wonder – I came back home to me. I realized how little I had paused in the wonder of our world in my 20+ year corporate world and vowed to make time and space to notice and see the world through a different lens.
And in fact, every summer in those 13 years since, one of my favorite things I get to experience are the babies learning to fly. And somehow, they always have a special lesson that accompanies the flight… the one that I’m supposed to hear in that moment.
This year was no different, and I’m going to share the tale of two babies this year. I call them Chloe and Emma, and they were each the last to take flight from two separate nests high in the rafters of my barn.
Chloe had four brothers and sisters, and they all left the nest days before she did. Each morning, I’d go out to the barn, and call to her… “It’s your turn little one,” as the momma and daddy swallow also called out to her, flying in circles in front of her, “This is the way.”
But Chloe sat steady in her nest calling out, and would not spread her wings. On about the 3rd or 4th day of being solo in the barn, as I cleaned the stall below, the momma swallow buried her head up behind the baby – pushing, pushing, pushing… to help dear Chloe from the nest. When I returned a few moments later, the baby was on the stall floor, taking mini-flights across the shavings.
When I came back to feed that night, Chloe was still there. I was concerned she was still there, so I brought her a bit of water, and some bird seed hoping she’d eat. Momma was no where around. The next morning, instead of Chloe taking flight into the big wide world, poor Chloe has taken wings to bird heaven.
In some short moments of reflection, I thought to myself, I should journal on this. There is introspection to uncover from this sad outcome. And yet life came in like a whirlwind, and I set my own reflection time aside.
In the week that followed, I lost a very beloved aunt, my little yorkie Kellen went through a big health scare (he’s okay now), I lost the resources of a team member working on some big projects… and to top off the whole week, I completely forgot about a dinner with a dear friend.
This morning, I was replaying the story of “how could you forget that dinner last night…” over and over again – beating myself up. In the midst of one of those replays, I suddenly remembered an important lesson I had listened to in a training earlier this week… “Be the observer of your mind.”
As I paused, I realized how many times I had played that story over in my head in the past 12 hours… 30, 40, 50? In fact, I had been replaying stories over and over in my head all week – from one bump to another.
“Okay, this is not serving me,” I realized. “What have I learned about giving myself some grace?” Fortunately, I’ve been doing a lot of personal work this year, with Shirzad Chamine’s Positive Intelligence body of work, which focuses on developing mental fitness. The time required to do this work, has been substantial, and yet it’s given me some deeply insightful wisdom – of my mind, of my own ways of being and more.
One of the fundamentals, is that our mind loves to grab a hold of situations and build them up… I’m sure you’ve experienced the story that spirals out of control over and over in our mind. Chamine teaches how to tap into our inner sage, and bring calmness to the situation. And what a perfect moment this morning was to pause with my sage.
So I stopped what I was doing in the barn, to pause. Shirzad calls this doing “PQ reps.” How seldom do we pause the cycles of stories that can formulate in our mind… what I love about PQ reps is that we get to pause multiple times throughout every day. When we practice PQ reps on an ongoing basis, we are more likely to remember to pause when we most need them. And I needed a pause this morning for sure!
As I paused and stopped what I was doing, I noticed a single baby bird remaining in the second nest – Emma. Emma’s momma and daddy were calling out to her, flying in circles before her, and then they left to let her find her courage.
Emma sat in the nest, calling out. I whispered to her… “it’s your turn little one.” And with that, she let her wings flutter, and out from the nest she went. First in a small little circle back to the nest. Then a little bigger circle and yet a little bigger circle. Finally across the barn to Chloe’s now empty nest. Some more small circles from that nest, and finally, Emma took flight out the stall door into the big wide blue sky outside.
I smiled as I stood there in that moment. So much richness in seeing the wonder of the world, and so much rich introspection starting to flow to me. In the pause and in the moment. I started to see the connection to so many lessons. And this time I took time to write them out. On this full moon today, I am taking time to get introspective.
Here are some of the questions I’ll be asking myself, and I invite you to join me and consider these questions yourself!
- There comes a time (in our lives and in our businesses) when we have to grow and stretch and take flight. It can be scary and feel daunting. We get to choose the stretch or not. Emma said yes to the stretch, and Chloe wasn’t able to make that stretch.
I choose to stretch and grow and fly.
Where are you being called to stretch and take flight? Where do you want more courage? Are you actively choosing to take that flight?
- When we’re taking big leaps (in our lives and in our businesses), it helps to surround ourselves with others who can see bigger possibilities (and a bigger world), beyond our current nests. We can get really comfortable in our nest, and sometimes we need a nudge to take flight.
I’m blessed to have an amazing coach and amazing communities who help me see bigger and more broadly out into the world. I know there are ways that I can even open to more support as I am building team and the next evolution of my extraordinary. I will be working with these questions today.
Are you sitting comfortably in your nest? What support do you need to take that flight? Are you open to fully receiving that support?
- Chloe and Emma reminded me about the power of the pause. (Gosh, will I ever fully get this lesson?!) As entrepreneurs, we can get into the habit of always doing, always supporting and forget the importance of our own self care. Life happens around us, that will remind us to slow down, and really feel the emotions. When we ignore it, we can smacked upside the head. I did that. And I’m grateful that nature is always right there to bring us back home to ourselves. The pause is our most important gift that is so readily available.
How are you making space to pause? What is your ideal pause that helps you really feel? (examples: in nature, in self care, with sound, in your body)
So there you go my extraordinary women friends. The tale of two baby birds. May they inspire you to find your courage, to stretch your wings and take flight surrounded by support and wisdom. Let me know what new flights this inspires.